As youngsters, most of us got a cheap thrill out of being scared. Playing chase in the dark, gory Halloween stories under candlelight, or creepy Ouija board experiences are all part of growing up. And let’s not forget the sheer terror of a horror film (Nightmare on Elm Street anyone?).

Now that we’re ‘all grown up’, we’re not so gone on being terrified for the thrill of it. But getting spooked sometimes just can’t be avoided. This happened to me just the other day. My daughter stood on top of a mirror at home and smashed it. She wasn’t hurt, but my irrational, superstitious brain snapped into overdrive (it’s not called ‘the monkey brain’ for nothing).

Superstitions are stories we tell ourselves, based on the fear that something bad will happen. When it comes to life in general, we can have very similar types of thoughts. When thinking about weight loss specifically, we can tell ourselves all types of doom-and-gloom stories. ‘It won’t work’; ‘Maybe it’s not the right time’; or ‘I won’t have time to do this properly’ are just a few that we hear in our clinics.

Of course, underpinning these thoughts is undiluted FEAR. It’s the voice in our heads that says ‘Stay the way you are – it’s too scary to change’. So, one minute, we’re highly motivated and moving towards our goal but the next, we’re scoffing that box of sweets and feel powerless once again. Does that ring a bell?

So How Can you Deal with Your Fear?

1) Become aware of the fear – are you breathing quicker, is your heart pounding, do you find it difficult to concentrate on anything else? Connect with it – don’t run away from it.

2) Acknowledge the emotion and accept it is happening – it’s just an emotion, it’s only a thought…you are much, much more than your thoughts and your feelings.

3) Ask yourself, ‘What is the story behind this fear’? What is it in your past that would cause you to think this way? ‘What am I telling myself?’ (You might need to discuss this with a friend or even see a therapist to work through this properly).

4) Try to apply a rational, more helpful thought…’ What is an alternative way of looking at this?’ If the opposite of fear is trust and safety, try to strive for this. Is it even possible to introduce humour into the situation? For instance, I was lucky enough to be able to giggle with a friend who convinced me that superstitions were made up long ago because they had no telly back then! She might have a point too.

Maybe it’s time we stopped taking our thoughts (and our fears) so seriously. Think of the way children celebrate Halloween – for the older ones, they love bloody, gory outfits. They actually enjoy being spooked. And, interestingly, it’s been proven that experiencing a bit of fear can bind people closer together. Think of children screaming on Halloween night – they’re all holding hands and are often bunched together in a tight-knit group. It’s a bonding experience. They trust they are safe. Maybe we could take a leaf out of their book and trust a bit more. And perhaps the media have a lot to answer for when it comes to us, as adults, being so easily spooked. So…whatever our scary thought is, we should try to remember…it’s only a story we’re telling ourselves, that’s all. It’s not fact.

Happy Halloween everyone!

PS) BTW, for anyone out there who smashes a mirror in the near future, apparently the ‘bad luck curse’ vanishes if you bury the item. YES yes, mine is well and truly buried!

 

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle